When I saw 2 hot air balloon chase vehicles heading west on a road near our campsite I knew there had to be balloons in the air & probably close. They were. Soon as I stepped out of the rig I saw 3 big brightly colored balloons heading our way. I hollered to Kelly & we quickly abandoned our current plans, jumped in the Jeep & headed west in pursuit of the balloons.
Hadn’t gone far & saw one chase vehicle by the side of the road. 2 balloons were descending slowly when I heard the burner going in the closest one & he began to lift again. The chase vehicle took off & we followed a couple minutes later after I grabbed some photos. Spotted it again off down a dirt lane in a field. Had to make 2 quick U-turns to find that lane & we quickly pulled in off the road about 6 car lengths back from the chase vehicles so as not to crowd them. Minutes later I realized that turned out to be an ‘Oh-Oh’ decision.
BALLOON’S CHASE CREW READY THEMSELVES FOR THE BALLOON’S LANDING
CAN YOU SEE OUR ‘OH-OH’ MOMENT COMING UP…KELLY’S AT THE BACK OF THE JEEP
In a comment on my Saturday post Jerry C in part had this caution for us…. “You don't want to get in front (of the balloon) as you may possibly interfere with his landing attempt. As long as your are behind the path of the balloon, you're good”.
Keeping that caution foremost in my mind I obviously parked right in the path of the descending balloon. Thought I had done Okay but not so much as I watched the balloon’s approach straight for the Jeep.
SEE THE TIP OF OUR JEEP’S AERIAL JUST INCHES UNDER THE BOTTOM OF THE BASKET
The ground crew guys were right there kinda joking about the ‘Jeep Pancake’ etc. They were good natured & laughing while re-assuring us the Jeep was just fine where it was. Now if were to tell you it came close enough to just about brush our whip aerial on the back of the Jeep you would think that an exaggeration of course. But aha, I have the photos:))
YOU CAN’T SEE KELLY BUT SHE IS ACTUALLY BENDING THE AERIAL OVER SO THE BASKET DOESN’T HIT IT
A FEATHER LIKE TOUCH-DOWN
These guys sure know what they are doing & as it turns out the fellow piloting that particular balloon is a veteran balloonist. He knew exactly to within a few square feet exactly where, when, & how he was going to gently set that gently down. And the fellas in his crew knew that he knew. And that explained why nobody was panicking about a large heavy balloon basket loaded with 17 people slipping just a few feet over our Jeep’s roof. Had I not been busy taking photos of this event unfolding I probably would have been the one person in the crowd panicking.
WAITING FOR THE BALLOON TO COOL & THEN DISEMBARKING…AND OF COURSE PHEEBS WAS RIGHT THERE HAPPILY GREETING EVERYONE
What a great way to start the day. Maybe we were not in the balloon itself but we were there for the landing & that was something totally new & exciting for us. Great fun for me to have something different to photograph for a change. And great fun for the Pheebs as she ran excitedly around greeting all the folks climbing out of the balloon basket. And she was right in there wanting to help the crew as well. Everyone was very friendly to her & she took advantage of that landing a few smooches on people when they bent down to pet her. She’s a master at the art of unexpected smooches.
We stayed & watched as the whole process unfolded from the balloon load of passengers landing, disembarking, pulling the big air bag over & spilling it’s hot air, unhooking the basket, crew members inside the bag totally deflating it, rolling it up & loading it in a crate which in turn was cleverly loaded into a trailer. Basket propane burner was detached & it also, with the help of a few male passengers, cleverly but simply loaded in the same trailer as well. I took a lot of photos of the whole balloon event from it coming in to land right up to the balloon crews vehicle departing the landing zone with passengers & balloon all stored away. I would love to include the photos detailing the process but obviously I can’t get that all in one post. We will probably head for home Wednesday & over the next week I will post the photos of the balloon crew at work packing everything up. Interesting how they get that large balloon deflated, rolled up & stowed away including the heavy basket.
Talked to the friendly & knowledgeable balloon pilot who was also the fellow in charge of the whole operation & he & his crew verified something else Jerry C said in his blog comment…Jerry said, "I know there are exceptions to everything, but have never met a balloonist that didn't welcome folks to gather around a landing area, take pictures, and ask questions”. And that is exactly what we found this morning. Nobody hollered at me, ‘hey get that Jeep out of here ya Doorknob’!!
And a short note to the pilot/crew chief fellow I was talking to from RED ROCK BALLOON ADVENTURES. Sorry I didn’t get your name but if there are any of my photos you can use just go ahead & use them. It’s a hobby for me & am always glad if & when any of my photos can be used by someone for a useful purpose. Obviously not all photos I took are in tonight’s post but I will be adding more of this mornings photos over the next few days or week. If you would like a copy of all the photos just email me & I will send them along to you.
THE BALLOON CREW HEADS BACK TO SEDONA
Our original plan for the day before the balloons came along was triggered by long time reader Phil who suggested a drive north up highway 89a from Sedona to Flagstaff & then back on I-17. Those are 2 stretches of road we had not been on before so after our morning’s hot air balloon excitement we headed into Sedona. Traffic was not too bad as we enjoyed the ride through town, successfully made our way around 3 round-a-bouts & headed north through Oak Canyon. What a marvelous drive this is & I can only imagine how this road must look when all the trees lining the way are in full green foliage. And what a wonderment it must be when in the Fall all the trees & foliage spring forth with Autumn colors. The road is a fun drive with many twists, turns, & 15mph hairpins. Definitely not a good road for RVs because it is narrow & many of the roadside trees are right there at the roadside with their branches ready to do some creative pin striping on whatever finely painted tall vehicle passes goes by. We basically had the northbound lane all to ourselves heading towards Flagstaff but we had a lot of southbound traffic going by on it’s way to Sedona.
SLIDE ROCK STATE PARK
South of Flagstaff we did stop at a scenic area called Oak Creek Vista. Great views looking back down the canyon. Native Indian folks with tables of hand made arts & crafts. Lot of people there so Kelly had Pheebs on a leash or she would have been, well you know what she does…..jumps up & smooches everybody.
YOU CAN SEE 89a HIGHWAY WE JUST CAME UP
Reaching Flagstaff we basically made a right hand U-turn from 89a right onto the southbound ramp of I-17 without missing a beat. More new scenery as we sailed southward along the 4 lane highway. Traffic was not heavy. And it wasn’t until I saw a exit sign for Schnebly Hill that I realized I have been spelling that wrong in my previous posts.
AND YES WE DID SEE SNOW ALONG # 17 HIGHWAY TODAY SOUTH OF FLAGSTAFF
It was somewhere around 10:30 & we were both hungry. Not wanting to get tangled up Cottonwood’s traffic we decided to take the quiet route through Cornville & Page Springs again. Kelly remembered seeing a lot of cars at a nice looking eatery in Page Spring so that was our destination. We had our feed bags strapped on well before we got there……& then it was closed. Open from Wednesday to Sunday:(( Well that kind of dampened our tummy Spirits so we decided not to drop around & say hello to Senator John McCain who has a ranch somewhere right around Page Springs. Or did he sell it??
Because we had our appetites geared up for some restaurant food for a change we reluctantly decided to head on into Cottonwood & take our chances with the traffic. Surprisingly the traffic was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Not knowing where to go Kelly spotted a place called Georgios & in we went. I enjoyed by bacon, eggs, toast, home fries & orange juice. Not sure what Kelly had but she didn’t care for it. It ended up in a ‘take-home’ box & will likely be fed to me tonight. (it was) But one little Critter that shouldn’t really be eating anything tonight is the Pheebs. While we were in Georgios for breakfast late this morning Pheebs found half of Kelly’s peanut butter sandwich in the Jeep plus 8 chocolate chip cookies she had stashed away. Pheebs carefully took all 8 cookies & half the peanut butter sandwich out of a sealed plastic bag & wolfed them down!! What a little Cookie Monster she is………
Stopped by Annie’s place but she wasn’t there. We were back home before 1 p.m. Did I mention we are under big blue sunny Arizona skies again with a lite breeze & 75F. WOW:)))))
Annie emailed later to say she was home so we slipped on over shortly after 3. Pheebs was happy to see Jake again but wasn’t too sure about Annie’s cats. She kept her distance. A Ranger had come by & informed Annie her 14 day limit was about up & she would not be allowed to slide across the road to our spot after we leave. Needless to say that was very disappointing news for Annie so she’s having to work on some new traveling plans now. We stayed for about an hour & a half & then it was time to go. Hope our trails cross again one day Annie & Pheebs says to give Jake a big smooch:))
Of course after my Sunday night post I had my conscience following me around & bothering me all day. Referring to a group of people as ‘cackling’ was not too considerate on my part. I may have thought that but I didn’t have to write that. I was just bemoaning the bad timing of having the Pink Jeep tour arrive 2 minutes after we did. In fact I wouldn’t mind going along on one of those Jeep tours myself. I’d be really curious as to how those beefed up Jeeps handled & how those experienced drivers do the things with those Jeeps they do. And of course there is always the plus of a commentary along the way & when destinations are reached. Without a guide to explain things one is only left with their own imaginations of what they are looking at. Of course I would prefer it if only Kelly & I were the one’s on the tour but…..awwww Geeeezzzzz, there I go again!!
GROANER’S CORNER:(( The economy is sometimes so bad that:
- I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.
- A truckload of Americans was caught sneaking into Mexico.
- CEO's are now playing miniature golf.
- The Mafia is laying off judges.
- If the bank returns your check marked "Insufficient Funds," you call them and ask if they meant you or them.
- McDonald's is selling the 1/4 ouncer.
- Parents in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned their children's names.
- Motel Six won't leave the light on anymore.